Regarding Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act: It is particularly troubling to see Tester attempting to mandate logging levels on national forests, especially when one of those levels is 14 times higher than what the U.S. Forest Service claims is sustainable. Tester is not a forester or any other type of natural resource professional and his logging mandate fails to take into consideration the ecology of the land. I doubt Tester would appreciate some bean counter telling him his ranch in Big Sandy could sustain 10 million cattle. This legislation attempts to thwart the Forest Service’s professional responsibilities in favor of private-sector logging.
I resent Tester’s allegations that anyone who disagrees with him is a radical or extremist. Many of the people who object to his legislation are fourth and fifth generation Montanans, small-business owners, retired Forest Service supervisors and district rangers, hikers and backpackers, hunters and anglers, outfitters and guides, veterans, scientists, former loggers, mill workers and community leaders. Tester’s emphasis on local control of public lands is detrimental to our heritage.
The wilderness designations are largely what we refer to as “rocks and ice.” Montana is the fourth largest state and we have the land to sustain wildlife populations in our remaining roadless areas. Only 2 percent of Montana is designated wilderness. If we were to designate all remaining roadless lands Montana would have approximately one-tenth of our land base in wilderness. With ever increasing population nationwide we should protect these areas for wildlife, water quality, and for future generations.